A swashbuckling Super Eagles team this evening in Miami, Florida, continued its build-up for the 2013 African Cup of Nations by thumping the Venezuela National team in a friendly, 3-1.
The gritty contest, which left the Super Eagles technical team hugging and smiling at the end, did not begin with a lot of promise. The Venezuelan team was enjoying the upper hand, repeatedly exposing a hesitant and sluggish Eagles defence that sometimes played as though they were strangers to each other.
The first half ended with no goals, a situation that was dramatically changed in the 49th minute when the effervescent Brown Ideye swept a cross from the right into the net.
Then came the highlight of the match when Nosa Igiebor, controlling a ball 30 metres out, volleyed a blistering right footer over the goalkeeper for Nigeria’s second goal. The few Nigerians all over Southern Florida rose in full voice in salute, those at the stadium waving the national flag as they danced.
The vociferous Venezuelan crowd at the match, in their thousands, took up their national cause, drumming, dancing and singing in an effort to rouse their national team.
It may have worked. In the 70th minute, they exposed the Nigerian defence one more time and slotted a goal past Ejide, Nigeria’s captain.
But the Eagles would have the last word, following a flurry of substitutions by coach Stephen Keshi that included Shola Ameobi, who made his international debut along with Bright Dike, who plays his professional soccer in America’s Major League Soccer.
But it was Lazio youngster Ogenyi Onazi getting his first goal in the full national team in added time to end the match and send Nigerians to local pubs in merriment.